Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Daffodils- What can a flower teach us about our beauty?

I brought them each a little bundle of daffodils last night. Bright, hopeful little daffodils all ready to be enjoyed. As I watched each of my precious friends adore the flowers, I felt God teaching me a new and magnificent piece of truth about His design for beauty. 

After I had given the women their flowers, we placed them in a cup and set them on a table nearby, then we continued on with our conversations. As we chatted, more friends came over and interestingly enough, they all commented in one way or another about the flowers. One sweet friend sarcastically joked that she doesn't like flowers, she'd rather be given a stone. Another friend chimed in that she would be interested in taking a bundle of flowers home if I ended up with extra. At a glance it would not be a big deal that the ladies were noticing the daffodils, but I was silently struck by it. As the minutes passed, no matter where the conversation went, it always went back to the flowers... their beauty.. their color... the joy that they brought. Everyone loved the beauty of the flowers. 

What is it about beauty that does this to us? How does beauty make us feel? In order to communicate the point I want to make, I will continue to use flowers as a symbol for beauty. 

What does a flower make us feel? Flowers bring hope, when someone needs encouragement it is common to give them a bouquet of some kind. Flowers offer comfort, that is why we gave our grandma roses when our grandpa passed away. Flowers can invoke romance- the joy of being wanted or pursued, they make us feel safe and remind us that God cares about details. When we allow ourselves time to marvel at the wonder of flowers , we are inevitably awestruck by the detail of appearance, fragrance, and even their function, as they provide nourishment for birds and bees alike. “Look at the lilies and how they grow … if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won’t he more surely care for you?...” (Matthew 6:28-30 NLT). If God cares so much to create flowers in such great detail, He must care about the details in our life. A field of wildflowers makes us feel free, lilacs remind us of our childhood, roses remind us of Grandma, and daisies remind us to smile. In essence, flowers bring life. 

We see then that God's design for beauty is that it would bring us life. That is so important to know as women. As females we were designed to bear the beauty of His being, and even if we don't understand that, we probably feel it in our ongoing desire to be lovely and attractive. However, sometimes our pure desire to be seen as lovely gets skewed from the pressure from our culture that deines beauty in a way that is very different from God's definition. 

GOD HAS A DESIGN FOR BEAUTY. JESUS CARES ABOUT BEAUTY. GOD IS THE GOD OF BEAUTY. Isn't that reassuring? It is easier to understand that God is the God of church, or the God of justice, or the God of holiness... but we don't always hear that God is the God of beauty. But He is. He loves beauty. He created it to be enjoyed, He made it for our pleasure and for our rest. God wants beauty to bring us life.

Does your beauty bring life? Like the aesthetics of a flower- does your beauty bring comfort and joy, safety, does it bring hope and encouragement, does it inspire freedom? I was with two friends last night and can tell you confidently that their beauty brought me life. Emma's beauty brought great joy. In the process of putting on her make-up she had a make-up disaster and openly reapplied her make-up in the car as we were on our way to Models For Christ. Emma did not hide herself and she did not allow her lack of make-up to steal her from spending time with us and sharing her heart. By the time we arrived at MFC her make-up was flawless... but it had no power over her. Her concealer and eyeliner were just a tool that she enjoyed, they were not what determined whether or not she was beautiful. Bethany Gunn's beauty brought freedom too. She was herself, wild and free. As she authentically lived as her wild self, I felt free to be myself too. Bethany cared about her physical appearance, but it was obvious she cared about the people around her even more. Her appearance, though stunning, was secondary to everything else going on in the moment. 

My beauty used to be very unsafe. I don't know if you felt it, but it certainly was. I was always striving to be thin.. and tan.. and have white teeth..., I was comparing, and always wishing I was different. Being in my presence could have easily made you feel like you were not enough, I didn't intend for it to be that way but the voice that screamed into my mind daily was that I was not enough and it probably overflowed to the people around me. On the other hand, I have experienced the type of beauty that makes me feel safe. Angela Jacobsen. That girl would pick me up on the way to school singing Usher songs at the top of her lungs, wearing sweats and a head full of hot curlers, she had no concern for what people thought of her attire. One day she would dress like like a star, with perfectly placed clothes and hair and nail polish... the next she would sport no make-up and a t-shirt and somehow her personality never wavered. She was just as confident one day as the next. She made me feel safe because she appreciated my physical appearance and yet she never gave it too much power. She lived in a way that showed that the way we look is wonderful and a huge gift to be enjoyed, and yet it is really nothing and hardly reflects our inward beings. She could laugh at her blemishes and yet she still thoroughly delighted in looking pretty. Her beauty was safe. 

When we are in turmoil over our appearance, agonizing over our aspiration to reach an impossible state of perfection, we are no longer bringing life. In those moments of anxiety over our size and shape and color, we invite others to feel anxious over their imperfections. When we dress in a way that is selfish, a way that is motivated by wanting other people to lust after us, then we are no longer allowing God's beauty to flow through us. God is the Comforter, Healer, Redeemer, Provider, Friend, Counselor, Father, Beautiful One, and Lover. People will feel these attributes of God through our beauty and the way we carry ourselves. But if our sense of beauty stops at our cleavage and a short mini-skirt, then people won't see God, they simply see us. Not even the real us..but just the shell that we live in for our 80ish years on this planet. 

God desires that people see us and praise our Father in heaven. That doesn't mean we always wear Jesus shirts and we tattoo the Jesus fish on our bicep... that means we carry ourselves, in both appearance and attitude, in a way that offers others the same life that beautiful flowers offer. Hope, joy, peace, comfort, freedom and love. 

Wear make-up, work-out, eat sugar, skip sugar, dress well.. or don't.. whatever... its not so much about that. But know that your physical appearance is a gift and God is ready to use it to bring enjoyment to the people around you. Just like the daffodils brought enjoyment to my friends. 


Monday, April 25, 2011

Good Friday tennis with Emma!

Thoughts from Stasi Eldredge, author of "Captivating"

True feminine beauty arouses men to “play the man”. There’s a great line Jack Nicholson speaks to Helen Hunt at the end of "As Good as it Gets": "You make me want to be a better man." A woman who is inviting, tender and vulnerable is not demanding or controlling. She inspires men to be strong, to offer their strength; physically, soulfully and spiritually on behalf of others. She believes in the men in her life and her very support and invitation encourages the men to believe in themselves.

An inviting, arousing woman is a woman who is alive and present to her own heart. She is a woman who is not striving but is at rest in the love of God. She knows that she is loved passionately, by a passionate God, and she knows that she is safe in his love. She can risk offering her true heart, being vulnerable and tender, and invite others into deeper intimacy with and healing from Jesus.

Friday, April 22, 2011

My sweet SOMD small group (just missing Michael Bent!)

Soul Surfer with Emma, Meredie, Rachel, and Megan


–noun, plural -ties.

the quality present in a thing or person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind, whether arising from sensory manifestations (as shape, color, sound, etc.),a meaningful design or pattern, or something else (as personality in which high spiritual qualities are manifest).

Photo By Caleb Parker

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. 

_Marianne Williamson

Monday, April 18, 2011

He wants to do life with you.

Isn't it amazing what happens when love happens?

Like when a girl starts to really like a guy... all of the sudden she accentuates the things about herself that she knows he is into. I love that. She starts dressing in a way that she knows he will like, she impresses him with her secret knowledge of cars and old sitcoms. She starts to linger where she knows he will be, waiting patiently for him to walk by and then acting surprised when he shows up.. right as she hoped. I love love so much, it makes us do the cutest things.

Or when he likes her... suddenly this hardheaded working guy is interested in finding cheap tickets to a ballet, just because he knows she will like it. Against everything he has known, he is willing to get less work done if it means he gets to spend time with her. At one point he even tries to turn down hanging out with her because he gets called into work to fix a broken toilet, but motivated by the sweet feelings of love she joins him in this endeavor and works alongside him to fix the toilet.

...They enjoy something as unappealing as fixing a toilet, all in the name of love...

My recent prayer has been that God would bring me to this kind of romantic love with Him. I know it is possible. We as people were created in His image, and I have yet to meet a healthy person that does not have the capacity for romantic relationship. Therefore I believe that it is possible to have a relationship with God that involves the passion of romance. Somehow.

In fact the more I observe people in love the more I feel God reminding me that this is a picture of His love for me. And you. The way lovers desire each other's company and how they notice each other in a crowd, no matter the number of people. The way they listen to each other, even when 3 other people could be speaking at the same time, somehow they still manage to hang on to each word that is spoken from the mouth of the one they love. They are excited about each other, they laugh and comfort each other. They are friends and they care about what the other person cares about. They want to be together, even if what they are doing is not fun or even requires discomfort, for the sake of love they will do it. Love makes them want to do life together.

Love compels God to want to do life with us. He doesn't just want to get us saved and then send us on our merry way, only seeing us on Sunday mornings and some Wednesday evenings. He wants to go to work with us and be with us when we are watching Glee. He wants to teach us how to handle our money and comfort us when we are hurting. He loves to listen to us and is delighted to be near us. His desire is that our hearts would be His, the same desire that lovers have for one another. Our God feels that way toward us. What a beautiful gift that is.

Song of Solomon 2:10-13
10 My lover said to me,
      “Rise up, my darling!
      Come away with me, my fair one!
 11 Look, the winter is past,
      and the rains are over and gone.
 12 The flowers are springing up,
      the season of singing birds[c] has come,
      and the cooing of turtledoves fills the air.
 13 The fig trees are forming young fruit,
      and the fragrant grapevines are blossoming.
   Rise up, my darling!
      Come away with me, my fair one!”